by Alyn McCauley
-- Leaf forward and all-around good guy
Finally before Christmas we seemed to start playing the right way and got ourselves into a playoff position or at least closer to getting out of the hole that we dug ourselves to start the season.
Over Christmas break I got to go home for basically a day and a half. We had two Christmas dinners; one at my parents place and one at my in-laws that we held with my family as well.
It was pretty exciting around our house because it was my daughter's first Christmas. She doesn't really get Santa Claus and everything that goes along with it, but she sure enjoyed ripping all the presents open and then once they were out, playing with them. So it was great fun to spend the time with her.
And then my brother-in-law and his wife had a baby girl on the 27th of December so that was exciting as well. I wasn't fortunate enough to be home for that, but everyone was sure on pins and needles over the holidays waiting for that arrival.
After Christmas came our long west-coast road trip where we played well enough, but seemed to loose someone to injury every night.
| Alyn McCauley is starting to find the twine. |
I probably played my best game of the year on New Year's Eve in Vancouver. Both Mats (Sundin) and Alex (Mogilny) were out and I was skating with Fitzie (Tom Fitzgerald) and Paul Healey. I picked up an assist. I almost scored in that game. Darcy (Tucker) shot the puck and I tipped it, or, thought I tipped it, but the main thing is the goal counted and we won the game in the end. We also came back from being down 3-1, so that was a big for us.
I like playing with Paul. He works real hard, he has a very good shot and he's not afraid to use it. Because of my wrist injury this year, it's made it real tough for me to shoot the puck. I can, of course, get myself to the net, but shooting the puck with any effectiveness has been difficult to say the least. To have a guy like Paul with his shot on my line has helped, plus we've worked on the penalty kill together and we have good chemistry.
After the New Year, we had that tough home-and-home with Jersey where we lost in New Jersey, but came back home and won in a game where the Devils put fifty shots on net, but Eddie (Belfour) came up huge for us.
That's kind of been the trend of late, where we get outshot again and again. But, we're winning on the scoreboard and that's what matters. We're getting the results and the points we need to keep moving up the standings.
The Ottawa Senators just seem to keep rolling, stretching their lead and they don't seem to falter at all. So if we can just keep pace with them, then maybe at some point they'll run into injury woes or fall out of sync and then we may have an opportunity to get back in there and make up some ground.
Then came the Boston game and yes, after twenty-some-odd games without a goal Alex (Mogilny) fed me with a great pass, creating a partial break and I put it up high for a nice goal and more importantly it helped us in a big win over Boston.
The Bruins got off to a great start and most thought we'd never catch them in the standings, but with that win we moved two points in front of them.
We've suffered a lot of injuries and right now, we're all looking forward to getting all of our guys back including Gary Roberts.
It doesn't look like I'll be skating with him when he does comeback. I figure he should slip in on the first or second line to get him back in the groove with a quick goal or two. I think I'll stay where I am. Perhaps later in the season we could be reunited and obviously I'd be thrilled with that. Gary's a great player and a great guy to skate with.
We're now in the stretch of the season where we're on the road more often than not and it's been tough. The road hasn't been our best friend, but we're doing pretty well.
There are still a lot of games left on the road but if we can get our record to around .500 away from Toronto, I think our success at home will be that much more of a benefit to us.
Talk to you soon, Alyn McCauley Check back for the next instalment of "A Player's Journal" with Alyn McCauley.